Cleveland Heights Seeks Executive Search Firm To Help Find City Manager
City Council issued requests for qualifications today and hopes to have a search firm hired by September.
The City of Cleveland Heights wants help conducting its national search for a new city manager.
City Council issued requests for qualifications today, June 28, officially launching its search for an executive search firm.
“My guess is that, a search like this, if we tried to do it on our own, we’d probably get 50 to 150 applications, and we’d be working on this for months, if not a year or more,” Mayor Ed Kelley said. “We’re looking for an executive search firm to help us through the process.”
The search firm hired will be required to assist council with everything from advertising the position to sifting through resumes and will narrow down the candidate field for council. The firm should also help facilitate the final interview process, provide suggested interview questions, negotiate a contract, conduct background checks and arrange travel.
The RFQ included information about the City of Cleveland Heights. Kelley said the company must understand the suburb and also should have experience and success with hiring city managers for other cities. Cleveland Heights has 415 full-time employees, 54 permanent, part-time employees and 130 seasonal part-time employees, according to the document.
Responses to the RFQs must be filed by 5 p.m. July 27. The tentative schedule is that council will review the applicants Aug. 6, schedule in-person presentations if necessary Aug. 20, review presentations Aug. 21 and pass legislation authorizing an agreement with a firm by the Sept. 4 regular meeting.
Acting City Manager Susanna Niermann O'Neil has not announced whether she will apply for the position, so she could not comment on the process. But Kelley said she is doing a "fabulous job."
O'Neil took over for former City Manager Bob Downey after he announced his resignation in April. Kelley said later that council considered firing Downey before he resigned. Downey's most recent review indicated that council was divided in its opinion of Downey's performance.
Kelley said council expects to get about 12 applicants and to interview three to six firms. Companies that have already contacted him about the search will receive RFQs, as will companies that the mayor of Palo Alto, CA, recommends. And the city will contact city manager associations.
“(The mayor of Palo Alto) is giving us search firms from California who do this,” Kelley said. “…(Council is) looking for (a search firm) that is very talented that is not necessarily in our back yard, we’re just looking for the best person for the job here both in the search firm and the person we're going to eventually hire.”
Kelley said council also spoke to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority about their recent searches to get information and tips.
The city will negotiate the cost of the search once it selects one to three finalists, but he said searches of this scope can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $125,000.
Kelley hopes to have a city manager hired by the end of the year, but it could take longer. He said he doesn't want to rush it, adding that the person may not be in place until anywhere from January 2013 to April 2013.
The city is looking for someone who can handle finances, economic development and safety, Kelley said. And there's one other important requirement — they need to live here.
"They need to eat, live and sleep Cleveland Heights. They need to go to church or temple in Cleveland Heights. They need to be in our restaurants. I don’t want somebody living out in Burton and we have a flash mob and it takes them a half hour to get here to serve as the safety director of our police force."